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Meet the incredible blanket octopus

In the underexplored depths of our world’s tropical and subtropical oceans, intriguing creatures known as blanket octopuses carve a unique niche in the marine ecosystem, living a life full of surprising twists and turns.

Photo Credit: Jacinta Shackleton

The Cape-Crusader of the Seas

The blanket octopus, an inhabitant of our world’s tropical and subtropical oceans, has a look that leaves a lasting impression. Often found wandering the open oceans or swimming near vibrant coral reefs, these cephalopods are rarely seen by humans.

But their blanket-like look isn’t even the most interesting thing about them! What really makes them so extraordinary is that they have developed immunity to jellyfish stings. They’ve also been known to disarm jellyfish and Portuguese Man O’Wars of their venomous tentacles, using them as a hunting aid. So, if you do ever run into a blanket octopus, make sure to give them the respect they deserve!

The Intriguing Mating Dance

A curious aspect of the blanket octopus’s life is its mating ritual, which comes with high stakes for the males. The females tower over them, weighing an astonishing 40,000 times more! The female, which can reach up to six feet, sports a fleshy, flowing cape that drapes her arms, while the males are barely the size of a walnut.

The males invest heavily in reproduction, often spending all their energy to mate, and occasionally succumbing to exhaustion. The females, in turn, carry up to 100,000 eggs until they hatch. Post-hatching, the mother soon passes away, leaving thousands of new blanket octopuses to continue her lineage.

Conservation Considerations

The health of the blanket octopus is intricately linked to the well-being of coral reef ecosystems. With reefs around the world facing multiple threats, the survival of these curious creatures hangs in the balance. So, while they may not need blankets, they certainly need us to ensure the protection of their ocean homes!

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